Monday, 16 July 2018
When I worked in the city several years ago, homeless people on the streets was part of the everyday landscape and unfortunately, it is on the rise in our cities as well as in our towns. Such an everyday occurrence that I believe it becomes easier for us all to walk on by, somehow we become dehumanised.
The office I managed in the centre of Glasgow had a basement area that a homeless man whom we will call John used to call his home at night. John wandered the streets by day and when darkness fell he shuffled down the grey stone steps in his ill-fitting shoes to shelter from the cold Scottish weather. He made up his bed of flattened cardboard boxes underneath an overhang from the walkway above which also gave him the means of seclusion from the passers-by.
In the morning I used to arrive at around 8.00a.m. by this time no matter how cold or wet it was John had packed up and tidied away his bed neatly into a corner where he knew it would stay safe and dry for his return.
One dark, cold November morning when I arrived at the office I was surprised to see John's small bundle of belongings at the top of the stairs that led to the basement. Looking down I could see John lying at the bottom, his shoes still on the steps, his feet lying bare to the elements. I knew instantly that he was no longer alive, but in case I was mistaken I hurriedly, unlocked the door and called the emergency services.
Sadly, I wasn't mistaken and as I watched John's body being taken away in a body-bag I asked one of the attending policemen how they would go about getting in touch with John's family or friends. He answered coldly, " What family or friends? He's homeless."
My heart sank, yes John was homeless but he was a man, someone's son, brother, friend. How long had it been since someone told him they loved him? How long had it been since he had been hugged and kissed? How long had it been since someone had spoken words of friendship to him?
Being homeless isn't just about not having anywhere safe at night to put your head down. Homelessness cuts an individual off from society pushing many into isolation. Poverty of any kind doesn't discriminate, it is something that can happen to any one of us at any time.
There is much suffering in the world ...physical, material, mental. the suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realise that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.
Mother Teresa (1910-1998)
Friday, 13 July 2018
The youngest child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, 11 weeks old, Prince Louis, was christened in the last week, which I'm sure you will have heard about. Without a doubt, he would receive an abundance of gifts from all over the world, in all shapes and sizes, as well as price tags.
However, there was one that to me no matter what anyone else gave him would be the best gift of all and that was the 1926 first edition of, 'Winnie the Pooh' by A.A. Milne gifted to him by his uncle, Prince Harry.
Yes, this edition is said to have cost a mere eight-thousand pounds/ten thousand US dollars, not too much if you say it quickly. But let's forget about the cost, it's the sentiment in which this book was given. Prince Harry had put lots of careful thought behind his choice of present like any good uncle should do. He is quoted as saying "That he wants to create an exclusive library for the royal children." This is said to be because he has fond memories of his mother, Princess Diana, reading him bedtime stories.
I was delighted to receive a paperback copy as a school prize when I was aged eight, along with a copy of, 'When We Were Very Young' and 'Now We Are Six.' I treasured them for many years until I'm afraid to say the well-read pages began to disintegrate and fall away from the binding.
A.A. Milne's fictional story 'Winnie the Pooh' is so much more than a children's story though, it tells the reader about some of the best qualities that can be found in a human being.
- Patience: "If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear."
- Thoughtfulness: "A little consideration, a little thought for others makes all the difference."
- Self- love: "It's not much of a tail but, I'm sort of attached to it."
- Love: "How do you spell love?"------ Piglet "You don't spell it.......you feel it."------ Pooh
- A.A. Milne
Well done Harry!
Monday, 9 July 2018
Over the last week, I haven't been feeling on top form and because I do keep reasonably good health when I do require to visit a medical professional my partner has to coax and cajole me to make that all-important call.
I take deep breaths before I dial the number and try to ignore the little nagging voice inside my head that tells me to hang up. I was told once that I have what is known as white coat syndrome and the diagnosis was correct without a doubt.
Now my fear is not just of doctors but of dentists too and because of this, I am ashamed to say that I don't go for regular check-ups.
However, when I found myself with a raging infection, a misshapen face due to swelling because one of my somewhat neglected teeth was protesting, it was time to push those buttons on my telephone key-pad. Otherwise, .......... I dread to think.
Eventually, I did find a dental clinic that would accommodate me, a non-registered patient and at three that afternoon, I entered the clinically clean building, like a pirate walking the plank.
The interior of the building was clinical but the staff were not, they were warm and friendly from the onset. I told them of my trepidation over the phone and this had been noted, meaning that each person I made contact with went out of their way to put me at ease. The dentist himself made me feel I had made a new friend and by the time I left I was feeling confident about making my return visit for a full check-up, clean and repair of the offending tooth.
Unlike, the rest of the world this clinic and many others in the UK provide this service free of charge to patients on low income. For those who do not fall into this category although charges do apply, the full cost is subsidised by the government-funded NHS (National Health Service).
This funded healthcare system founded by Aneurin Bevan July 5, 1948, applies to all UK citizens and helps us access hospitals and clinics for the medical help we need without facing hefty medical bills.
I have experienced medical treatment overseas and before a doctor would even speak to me I had to show I had the wherewith to pay. Thankfully, I did have medical insurance and my much needed medical treatment went ahead. But, it brought home to me how lucky we are in the UK to have the NHS.
HAPPY 70th BIRTHDAY NHS.
Tuesday, 3 July 2018
Memories are described in words when we want to share them with others. In our minds, memorable and not so memorable events are replayed in our mind's eye like old movies.
We believe when we recollect the happening from the past that we piece together the facts as they really happened, but of course, that is not the case. Our brain selects only certain pieces and puts them together, retrieved and decoded from the deep dark sections of our brain.
Depending on how old they are however the quality can be grainy and faded like a well-worn jigsaw puzzle. Words of love, anger, fear, envy, pity, joy, friendship and sadness whirl around in our heads until they are added as the crackly soundtrack.
Distant memories can pop into our head for no apparent reason at all, others because words we have read or pictures we have looked at act as a trigger for our recollection process.
If we want to communicate our feelings now we are likely to use one, or more of the many electronic communication tools that are available to us.
The messages we receive are unlikely to stay in our possession forever as they will be lost through time. They cannot be stored in a box like the old cards and letters that many generations before us kept, to capture memories forever. That is really sad I think.
The larger cards in the picture were part of my Aunt's collection and are all forty plus years old. They are filled with words of motherly love from her mother, my grandmother and live on after both are no longer with us.
The little notelets in the background are ones that I wrote to her thanking her for the gifts and kindness that she bestowed upon me all of my life.
There is nothing in this small collection that is grainy, faded or crackly. She took care of her memories.
Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.
Friday, 29 June 2018
I am honored today to introduce you to an accomplished Indie author of multiple genres, Raymond Greiner. He lives in Southern Indiana and a lover of all creatures great and small, which is evident in his writing.
- Raymond, you have had books, novellas, short stories and poems published, as well as essays in literary journals. When did you begin writing?
I've been a passionate reader my entire life, and wrote a few essays in my early twenties but was caught up in the flow of mediocrity, which placed monetary earning and employment as a priority, therefore my writing stopped shortly after it began. If I were able to go back in time I would not place so much emphasis on an employment career and follow the social outline presented. I'd probably live like a pauper and writing would be a priority.
- What was your first piece of writing published?
- You write fiction and non-fiction. Which genre do you prefer?
I enjoy both rather equally. Fiction tells stories, and I've always loved stories, but non-fiction is gratifying, as it concentrates on particular subjects of circumstances. Research is connected to essays and this results in learning for the writer and reader.
- The relationship between animals and humans are featured in many of your publications. Is this a subject you have always had an interest?
Yes, life forms other than human are fascinating and perform unique ways to find balance and harmony within their given social structure yielding longevity. Early humans were less warlike than current human social design. They functioned with similar social patterns as the wild critters and hunter-gatherers relied on each other similar to the wolf pack. They needed each other for survival, which is quite a contrast to modern humanity.
- Having read reviews of your books Hinterland Journal and Hinterland Narrative I noted several of your readers describe your writing as thought-provoking. Do you think your readers think this because you are passionate about your chosen subjects?
- Finally, Raymond, you have had five novellas published Millie And Ami, Trella’s Gift, Queenie, Ezra’s Story, Saving Canis Lupus and your recent publication, Atsa. Any further works you plan to publish?
Yes, I have just recently published a full-length novel titled, Atsa and I have a second novel presently in the works, titled, The Twig Is Bent. All sales from my animal-themed books go to animal rescue organizations. I'm mailing copies of my published works with this theme to various humane societies across the country. I'll donate the books and they can sell them and keep the proceeds to apply to their cause.
Raymond, thank you for featuring today and allowing us into your world. I want to also thank you for giving me the chance to read some of your work. There are two words that describe your writing and that is wonderful and passionate. Readers if you want to know about Raymond and his books I've included the links below.
Facebook: Raymond Greiner
Facebook: Raymond Greiner
Monday, 25 June 2018
Over the weekend I watched a TV adaptation of J. B. Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls' produced by the BBC in 2015, stars Davis Thewlis as the formidable, fantastical, Inspector Goole. I studied the play at school, however as my school years are a distant memory so was the eery tale of a police inspector calling on the Birling family.
The story set in the year 1912 is about how the actions of five members of the one family contributed to the death of a young woman called Eva Smith. The play written by Priestley in 1945 is written with ease and expertise. The suspense he creates linking the past, present and the future scene by scene leaves you wanting more and more.
He was an author known for his strong political views and this play certainly puts a strong point across, with a touch of fire and brimstone added. A point which in today's political climate I believe is still very relevant.
The Inspector leaves his audience with these words,
"But, remember this. One Eva Smith has gone, but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives and what we think and say and do. We don't live alone. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will come soon when, if men will not learn that lesson then they will be taught it in fire and blood with anguish. Good night."
J.B Priestley 1894-1984
Thursday, 21 June 2018
As we've headed for the Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere this week, the hours of daylight never seem to come to an end. I've been going to bed in daylight and waking up at an unearthly hour as the sun streams through my bedroom window.
I'm not complaining because it won't be long until the long dark days are upon us once again. With, of course, the cold thrown in for good measure.
Here's a short poem I found in an old book my aunt left me several years ago. I'm not so sure the American author, George Birdseye had solely the summer solstice in mind when he wrote these words, as they suggest to me there was love in the air.
The longest day is in June, they say
The shortest in December
They did not come to me that way
The shortest I remember
You came a day with me to stay
And filled my heart with laughter
The longest day, you were away
The very next day after
George Birdseye circa 1840